Autumn Escapade a new thrill for Millers
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David Miller has earned nearly $140 million in career purses as a driver and is on his way to a sixth consecutive season with at least $10 million. So it might be surprising to learn that when he drove Autumn Escapade to a world-record-equaling mile of 1:53.2 in the $93,500 Ms Versatility on September 23, it gave Miller his most lucrative victory as an owner.
Making it even more memorable is the fact Miller and his wife, Misty, got the victory in their home state of Ohio, at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, with a horse from Ohio.
“That one there, to me and to him, was special because it was home,” said Misty Miller, who shares ownership of the mare with David. “That was thrilling. It’s just been really fun. We’ve never had one as good as her. The whole ride with her has been great. Far better than what we ever thought it would be.”
Of course, the ride is not finished. Autumn Escapade is among the seven horses in Saturday’s $250,000 Breeders Crown Mare Trot at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Last year, Autumn Escapade finished sixth in the event, which was won by Buck I St Pat.
“Last year, I told (David) that I would be happy just with a Breeders Crown saddle pad,” Misty Miller said. “To win the Breeders Crown, that would be … it would definitely be thrilling. Those are some great mares. She’s been competitive with them. We’re just happy to be able to go with them.”
At this year’s Breeders Crown, Autumn Escapade’s connections hope to forego the escapade they endured last season when the mare tied up. It surprised everyone involved with the normally placid horse.
“She got way out of character,” David Miller said. “Warming up they had the band out there and (trainer Jonas Czernyson) told me she got really worked up during the warm-ups. We figured that’s what happened, she got too keyed up warming up.
“It was disappointing. We thought going into the race she got a good post, so we thought we had a real good chance.”
The Millers bought Autumn Escapade privately as a 3-year-old in September 2008. That year she won 10 of 19 races in Ohio, primarily on the fair circuit, with David Miller’s daughter, Devan, handling the driving. She won four more times on the East Coast that season after joining the Millers.
Last year, Autumn Escapade won only twice, but earned $200,884. She was second in the $331,844 Armbro Flight, beaten by a half length by Lavec Dream, and won a leg of the Ms Versatility series. This year, she has four wins in 16 races and $209,796 in purses.
“We’ve had her for a couple of years now, and she just kind of does her best for you,” David Miller said. “She’s very easy to get along with, very easy to drive and she’s very handy. She has a lot of good qualities to her. She always gets money for us.”
Trainer Jonas Czernyson agreed, adding, “She’s pretty honest, pretty consistent. That’s one of her better qualities.”
Driver and trainer both are happy with Autumn Escapade entering the Breeders Crown.
“She’s in good form right now,” Czernyson said. “With some racing luck, she could be the horse.” (Breeders Crown)